Archive for Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Leaders take steps toward green space

November 6, 2007

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City may consider open space proposals

The city and county may soon start accepting proposals for open space projects. The Eco-Squared Committee will ask city commissioners to begin collecting ideas. Enlarge video

A first step for identifying green space preservation projects received approval Monday from the Douglas County Commission.

The ECO2 Commission is preparing to start an inventory of land that could be reserved as green space. The group would ask landowners to send in proposals for putting land into the green space program, county commissioners were told.

"Our challenge is finding a way of getting open space projects to the forefront," said Bob Rhoton, co-chairman of the ECO2 (pronounced "echo squared") Open Space Committee.

ECO2 wants to make available joint city-county requests for proposals from landowners interested in participating in the green space projects. Information about ECO2 and its criteria for green space can be found on the Douglas County Web site, www.douglas-county.com, through the link "ECO2 Commission."

ECO2 representatives will meet tonight with the Lawrence City Commission to seek its approval for moving ahead with the project.

The ECO2 Commission was formed several years ago to identify industrial, business and open green space sites in Douglas County. The commission is made up of appointees by the city and county. The commission has since formed two committees to review potential industrial and green space sites.

Once land is identified as potential green space, the city and county might purchase it, or it could be purchased as a conservation easement under which the current landowner would continue to maintain it.

"There are a number of options for doing this," said Trudy Rice, ECO2 Commission chairwoman.

The deadline for landowners to submit proposals is Jan. 31.

But at this time neither the city nor the county has allocated money for acquiring green space. County Commissioners Bob Johnson, Jere McElhaney and Charles Jones noted that discussions about funds that might be made available for the project won't take place until next year.

Potential industrial sites also are being studied, said Larry McElwain, co-chairman of the ECO2 Industrial Committee. The committee is taking potential industrial sites already identified by studies and the city-county planning staff to assess how they match ECO2 criteria, McElwain said.

Included is land around Lawrence Municipal Airport where an industrial development has been proposed, he said.

In other business, county commissioners are considering adoption of the International Residential Code for unincorporated areas of the county. The so-called I-Codes would set standards for residential builders to follow. I-Codes are used by most area communities, said Bobbie Flory, executive director of Lawrence Home Builders Association. The city of Lawrence has approved the codes.

I-Codes will be reviewed by county zoning director Keith Dabney and the Board of Building Code Appeals to see if amendments will need to be made.

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